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Six weather satellites launched from US base

California, USA, 17 April 2006: Six weather satellites successfully reached orbit and were ready to begin their five-year mission to track hurricanes, monitor climate change and study space weather. The satellites were launched on a rocket booster on April 14 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. They were placed into orbit about 800 km above Earth, where they separated to form a chain. The satellites are equipped with three instruments including a GPS radio receiver, a photometer and a beacon to relay data to ground station on Earth.

The mission is known as COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate) in the United States and FORMOSAT-3 in Taiwan. The $100-million mission was funded by Taiwan and several US agencies, including the National Science Foundation. Ground stations have received signals from all six satellites according to an update on April 15 on the website for the project’s manager, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

The satellites will take about 2,500 daily measurements by using global positioning receivers to track radio signals passing through the atmosphere, scientists said.
The information gathered will be used to enhance research and improve weather forecasting. Scientists hope the data will help them better track storms and monitor long-term climate change.